How children's yoga classes are bring benefits to young people in South Tyneside

Children have been getting a boost to mind, body and spirit with special yoga classes tailored to suit them.

Vanathi Webster, a former primary school teacher, launched Children Inspired By Yoga South Tyneside to bring the benefits of the practice to young people, and she has been working with nurseries, schools and communities in the borough.

Vanathi said some adults may think yoga is too gentle an activity to keep children active, but it could not be further from the truth.

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“Children aren’t built to be still,” she said. “They need to be experiencing a whole range of physical movement to ensure strong physical development whilst also being exposed to a range of different sensory experiences and language to support brain development and language development.

Children at Laygate Community School taking part in a yoga class.

"Our programme teaches children how to be strong and active but also find calm through mindfulness activities, and we do all of this in just 30 mins.”

Vanathi is part of the Children Inspired By Yoga network. She said the programme has been carefully designed by paediatric physiotherapists, musicians, educators and yoga teachers, and is aligned with the National Curriculum to produce a fun and engaging physical activity for children as young as 6 weeks to 11 years to enjoy.

Among those taking part in sessions are children from Nurserytime South Shields, based in Beach Road.

Manager Helen Coulson said: “First and foremost, Vanathi’s delivery of the sessions, the enchanting narratives which run alongside the session and Vanathi’s child-friendly interactions really capture the attention of our children meaning they are instantly ready to engage and learn.

Children at Nurserytime South Shields taking part in a yoga session with Vanathi Webster.

With a huge emphasis on exercise and maintaining a healthy lifestyle in Early Years, these sessions immediately tick this box and so many more.

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"There are countless additional benefits to these sessions; mindfulness, regulation, coordination and self-esteem to name but a few - all which have enhanced importance for a generation recovering from the impact of Covid lockdown.

“Lastly but most importantly our children have so much fun, their giggles and screams of excitement during their sessions speak volumes.”

Vanathi said schools are also finding value in the programme to support their PE and wellbeing curriculum, as well as other areas of school like.

Children at Nurserytime South Shields taking part in a yoga session with Vanathi Webster.
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Michelle Lauder, headteacher at Laygate Community School in South Shields, also taking part in Vanathi’s sessions, said: “The good provision of mental health and wellbeing of our pupils is one the core values at Laygate Community School.

"Yoga is a fantastic way for our pupils to promote relaxation and develop attention and concentration skills whilst creating an environment of calm and mindfulness.”

Vanathi, who has a background in developmental psychology and previous experience evaluating mental health interventions in schools, said she has a strong passion for advocating children’s mental health and wellbeing.

“One of the things I love the most about my job is connecting with the community to support children’s wellbeing,” she said.

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Children at Nurserytime South Shields taking part in a yoga session with Vanathi Webster.

"In the past year I have worked with a number of different schools, nurseries and families that not only observed their children enjoying our sessions but could also see the value in the life long skills we teach to help children manage those big feelings they experience day to day.

"I would love to be able to connect with even more schools, nurseries and families to further support children’s mental health and wellbeing in South Tyneside”

To coincide with mental health week, Children Inspired By Yoga South Tyneside is running workshops in schools and nurseries alongside our community classes in February. Contact [email protected]

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Children at Laygate Community School taking part in a yoga class.
Children at Nurserytime South Shields taking part in a yoga session with Vanathi Webster.
Children at Nurserytime South Shields taking part in a yoga session with Vanathi Webster.
Children at Nurserytime South Shields taking part in a yoga session with Vanathi Webster.
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Children at Nurserytime South Shields taking part in a yoga session with Vanathi Webster.